A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
The Chauvinism Towards The WNBA Product Is Sometimes Utterly Embarrassing
SAN ANTONIO – The WNBA is a decade years old this season but do you think the male dominated sports talk world gives a hoot? Of course not. For many in this business that I am a part of, the WNBA is nothing more than fodder for laughter at a woman’s expense. But for me it’s utterly embarrassing to listen to at times because the male bashing that goes on in some of these conversations is very reminiscent to what our history books tell us about the Suffrage of the 1920s; when women didn’t have any rights. And to make matters worse, there are plenty of Neanderthals in the male populous who believe that a woman’s place is not on a sports field but in a kitchen, nearly naked, barefoot, pregnant and enjoy being treated like someone’s property. Some of them, I dare say, are behind a microphone talking to somebody’s son who is dating somebody else’s daughter.
It’s not my job to sell anybody on the game played up under the rim nor am I going to even try. I have no problem saying that I enjoy watching the San Antonio Silver Stars play in person and that I enjoy actually covering them for Sportsticker or any other media entity that wants the coverage. For me it’s all about giving an audience a product that they enjoy and provide the coverage to that demographic that is fair, balanced and definitely substantial in content. Do I think teams like the Silver Stars need to have their own pre and post game shows on their broadcasting networks? I sure do. What’s good for big brother at the NBA level should not be any less for the women. But yet the WNBA’s product is treated like second-class citizenry and many in the sports journalism world believe that this product is a waste of their time talking about it and definitely a waste of tower time for the listeners to hear it. But what nobody in this male dominated world is realizing is that this product can grow exponentially if it truly had the support of the sports world and the reason why is because women want the same thing that the men already have and that is validation of existence.
Look at the history of a class of people. African Americans and Hispanics didn’t get their validation until individuals like Caesar Chavez and Medgar Evers had to die for their cause. When it came to women’s rights, it took women like Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, and Jeannette Rankin to help move the women’s voter movement. If you want to keep in sports, CNNSI.com published the top 100 women in sports and the list included Jackie Joyner Kersey, Cheryl Miller, Bonnie Blair and Chris Everett. As a matter of fact there are countless women publications out there but for the WNBA, there simply isn’t a willing male voice to go out on a limb and say, “I support you and your cause.” THE RIDICULE IS NOT NEARLY AS BAD AS BEING A CHAUVANIST To many of my male colleagues, I must look like the perfect target of being ousted from the male dominated field of sports reporting. As I told one individual one day while watching a basketball game and we were talking about Lisa Salters, I think that a woman has every right to do a job that a man wants to do if she is qualified and meets the qualifications that are put forth. Now of course there are some jobs that will be off limits to the female populous because of physical inadequacies but those jobs are becoming more extinct as new ways of getting the job done are found. When it comes to sports, I firmly believe that if a woman wants to play a sport that has been geared to that physical ability of the gender, then that’s their God given right. And if we are anything of a supportive nation, one would think that it is only fair that a product like the WNBA be given the same support that the men’s counterpart gets; even if that means a smaller scale as far as budget but that doesn’t mean you become a penny pinching miser that sets the league up for failure. That’s just wrong.
But maybe the ridicule by many in this male dominated field is too much for those who may want to mention it on the air or in their column. Well as you can read, I have no problem talking about whether the Mystics are going to be able to find that cohesiveness necessary to have a successful season or whether a talented player like Lisa Leslie is one of the best basketball players on the planet. I don’t have a problem wishing that my friend and history maker in her own right, Theresa Edwards, assumed the rightful place of being an integral part of the WNBA in a management fashion because I think that the Georgia native is owed that for her contributions to the women’s game. I don’t have a problem writing it and voicing my displeasure that my colleagues would be so callous on this issue and I definitely wouldn’t have a problem voicing my opinion over the airwaves and taking calls from myopic callers who think that this game is meaningless but yet have the nerve to say that they just went to go see their little girl play in her first soccer game.
Ridicule on this subject doesn’t hurt me or any of the fine broadcasters, coaches or other males who work diligently to help the WNBA become a product that will sustain the next three decades. As I recently told Jim Kossimer on his show based in Sacramento, I enjoy watching a good game and for me it’s nice to watch a game where fundamentals are more abundant and a hard work ethic is truly exhibited to where talent from the players just rises to undetermined heights of enjoyment. For guys like me who are just sports junkies, watching the WNBA is nothing more than watching another version of a game that I love. Maybe instead of me trying to convince others how great this game is, Koss and I are just going to have to have a pre-game pow wow session in August about where this league could go and hopefully he gets a lot of female listeners who appreciate two gentlemen giving their views on a sport that very few men can embrace.
But I know that trying to get my gender to stop being the dim light bulbs that we are on subjects like this is hard work. After all it is so much easier to go on a radio show and call a group of women athletes nags with tails to get a laugh than to actually admit to your audience that what America has the opportunity to witness is somebody’s daughter doing something that once men only could do a few years back. It is so easy to start categorizing this league as the league where lesbians can ‘come out the closet’ rather than actually try and embrace a family theme to it and actually work in making the league more tolerable for all groups who attend. After all it’s so much easier in this male dominated world of sports to make fun of the female species and actually get away with it because there aren’t that many women who are in position to yank a yahoo off the air for insensitive comments.
Well maybe it’s all for the better for guys like me. Maybe I need to stop trying to change the mindset of a mass populous that if they supported the WNBA and other female sports endeavors, maybe their bedroom activity would exponentially increase. Maybe I need to keep such knowledge about how to actually communicate with your daughter on her level while at a Monarchs, Mystics, Lynx or Liberty game while still teaching her some fundamentals about basketball watching and playing. Maybe what I need to realize is that for some in this business, it’s the only thing they know how to diffuse faster than talking about soccer or table tennis. Maybe what I’ll just do is talk to the people who are open minded enough to realize that the WNBA is a great product and that in a society where fathers need to connect with their daughters and where women still need to find some validation from the male species, it’s just easier to do my small part and just enjoy the games that I enjoy watching and learning something from a different perspective.